Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad

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The Philadelphia, Newtown and New York railroad at the beginning of the 20th century

The Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad was a railroad in southeastern Pennsylvania that is now a part of the SEPTA commuter rail system. Despite the name, it only ever extended between Philadelphia and Newtown, Pennsylvania.


The Pennsylvania and the National[edit]

The Newtown Railroad was chartered on April 2, 1860, as the Philadelphia & Montgomery County Railroad Company. The Newtown's early history was a part of the competition to control rail traffic between New York City and Philadelphia. By the 1860s, there were two lines running between Philadelphia and New York by the New Jersey Rail Road and Transportation Company (NJRR) and the Camden & Amboy Railroad (C&A). On February 1, 1867, the C&A and NJRR were informally joined as the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Companies (UNJ). The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) approved a lease of the UNJ on May 15, 1871, and the UNJ approved May 19. The lease was made December 1 and the PRR began operating the UNJ that day. The PRR thereby established a monopoly on New York-Philadelphia rail traffic.

A rival line, the National Railway, was planned, but the PRR's influence in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey legislatures hindered its development. Pennsylvania's legislature passed a bill on January 29, 1873, to change the railroad's name to Philadelphia, Newtown & New York Railroad Company and authorized it to extend its railroad to a bridge to be constructed across the Delaware River to connect with the Mercer & Somerset Railway. In that same year on October 22, the PRR leased the line in order to block the National's path.

Building the line[edit]

When the PRR leased the railroad, 6.1 miles (9.8 km) of track had been laid, bringing the line to Fox Chase. The entire 22-mile (35 km) line opened as a branch of the Connecting Railway to Newtown on February 2, 1878, with equipment furnished by the PRR. On November 22, 1879, the North Pennsylvania Railroad (NPR) began operating it, as it was no longer of use to the PRR. As the NPR was controlled by the Reading Company (RDG), the Newtown line became a part of the RDG system.

Mergers and succession[edit]

The Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad maintained its existence as a separate corporate entity until 1945, when it and other smaller controlled lines were merged into the Reading Company. Ownership passed to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Conrail was the designated operator of SEPTA commuter service until 1981. At that time, SEPTA operated the line as the Fox Chase Rapid Transit Line (a spin-off of the City Transit Division's Broad Street Subway until January 1983, when service was discontinued beyond Fox Chase.